5 Reasons to Love Your Produce Manager

Get to know the people behind your produce department

Do you know who your supermarket produce manager is? Most people don’t, unless they happen to be in the produce department early in the morning when these hardworking men and women go through the inventory of beautiful vegetables and gorgeous fruits they have ordered for your local grocery store. That is why, on April 2, we are celebrating Love Your Produce Manager® Day to show our appreciation for their work.

So, why should you love your produce manager and other produce team members?

They know what’s what

Is this cilantro or Italian parsley? Is scallion the same thing as green onion? (The answer is yes.) Can you help me find a jicama? Your produce managers can help you navigate the produce department and find the exact fruit or vegetable you’re looking for. They can also answer your questions about certain products. Not sure how to eat a cherimoya? Your produce manager can help you with that!

They know what’s fresh

Produce managers definitely know their produce. They can tell you what’s in peak season and when your favorite vegetables will be back in season. They also have the knowledge to help you pick the best fruits and vegetables from the shelf!

They provide inspiration for your next meal

Supermarket produce people know how to make those fruits and vegetables look enticing with creative and colorful displays. Merchandising these perishables could be considered an art form, and it may even inspire you to pick up something for a recipe you’ve been meaning to try. While not all produce staff are gourmet cooks, many do have a handy tip or two about the best way to store and prepare some of the fresh items in your basket. Ask your produce manager about his or her favorite recipe and try it out for yourself.

They can help you get what you want in the store

It never hurts to ask your produce manager about hard-to-find items or to request specialty items. Produce managers are your connection to new and exciting produce. Your input helps them stock their shelves better and gives them opportunity to bring in something new to the stores. For example, back in the 1960s, a shopper asked a produce manager for what we now know as the kiwifruit. He, in turn, asked around, and we found them for him. The rest is history!

Two words: free samples

Would you like to know what a lychee tastes like? Your produce manager may be able to help you with that. In some supermarkets, produce managers can provide a sample of products upon request.

Now that you know how resourceful produce managers are, make sure to stop by and say hello to your local produce guy or gal the next time you’re in the store.

(And don’t forget to show them extra appreciation on April 2 on social media with hashtag #LYPM.)

Three Next Level Ways to Use Egg Roll and Wonton Wrappers

Take egg roll and wonton wrappers beyond Asian cuisine

Egg rolls and wontons have never wandered far out of the American culinary purview.  After all, Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular ethnic foods in the U.S.

However, we have seen surge in popularity with egg roll and wonton wrappers in recent years as more people are cooking at home. Home cooks are wrapping and rolling fearlessly with all the video tutorials out there to guide them along the way, and with the wrappers being readily available at supermarkets.

But egg rolls and wontons have come a long way from the traditional filling of meat and vegetables and deep frying. Have you tried the Tex Mex, avocado, or salmon egg rolls at the Cheesecake Factory? Or perhaps the chicken wonton tacos at Applebee’s?

Clearly, these little pastry sheets are definitely meant for so much more than just egg rolls and wontons. They’re just waiting for you to unwrap and unleash a delicious culinary world beyond the traditional Asian applications.

Applebee's Chicken Wonton Tacos

Wok, away, grasshopper! Here are three creative ways to use egg roll and wonton wrappers.

Meal In a Cup

Eggroll wrappers fit perfectly into standard muffin tins, and smaller wonton wrappers are adorable in mini tins! After a quick trip to the oven, these pastry cups are ready to be filled with just about anything from sweet to savory.

How to: Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil, then fit one wrapper into each cup. Depending on a recipe, you may fill them and bake them off all in one go, or you may have to bake the cups first, fill them, then bake again. Either way, the results are the same: delicious, bite-size morsels!

With what do you fill them? Anything you heart desired! You can just spoon in some Chinese chicken salad, or take a southwestern turn and fill with black bean salad with avocado. For a hot meal, try ricotta cheese with meat sauce topped with mozzarella for a lasagna cup, ground turkey taco filling topped with cheese and tomatoes, or jalapeno poppers like this one below.

Fresh Pasta Stand-In

No time to roll out fresh pasta? Egg roll and wonton wrappers to the rescue!

Use egg roll wrappers as lasagna sheets. No need to pre-cook the noodles! Just layer them in as you would with your regular lasagna application. Cover and bake until the noodles are cooked through, then you can bake a little longer or put the lasagna under the broiler if you like that brown and melty, cheesy crust.

As for wonton wrappers, they are just the right size for making ravioli. Fill these sheets with anything from simple ricotta (and bake for appetizer) to the show stopping raviolo al uovo with ricotta and runny egg yolk center.

Sweet Sensations

The sky’s the limit when it comes to using egg roll and wonton wrappers for desserts! Make the dessert cups by brushing on melted butter instead of non-stick spray. Sprinkle on some cinnamon-sugar for a perfect ice cream vessel (hm…dulce de lechce ice cream…), apple pie filling, or cannoli cream.

You can also make traditional shaped egg rolls and wontons that are crispy on the outside and filled with oozy, gooey, yummy sweet fillings like fried chocolate hazelnut banana raviolis, or S’more egg rolls filled with chocolate and marshmallow fluff.

And by the way, these egg roll and wonton wrappers freeze really well. Pack unused portions into a zip top back, squeeze out all the air, and pop them into the freezer. They’ll keep for at least two months. Just thaw them out in your refrigerator overnight before use.

But seriously though, with all the things you can make with these wrappers, we doubt you’ll have them in your freezer that long.

Chinese New Year: 15 Days of Good Eating

Peak season citrus and fresh vegetables play major roles in this food-centric lunar festival

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Hang the red lanterns, gather your citrus fruits, and cook your noodles. On February 16, it’s time to welcome the year of the Dog!

Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is the most important traditional Chinese holiday, and is celebrated around the world. The celebration starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is on February 8, 2016, and goes on for 15 days. During this time, also known as the Spring Festival, those who celebrate visit temples to pay respect to their ancestors and pray for good fortune in the coming year. Small red envelopes of money are given to children as a token of good luck and prosperity. And, like most any family-centered holiday, everyone gathers around for a family feast, making Chinese New Year one of the biggest food holidays of the year.

Food is definitely a focus of Chinese New Year celebration, but it’s more than just nourishment. In Chinese traditions, foods served during the festival have auspicious meanings. Chinese traditions are rich with wordplay and symbolism. Some of the dishes and ingredients have names that sound similar to words and phrases referring to good wishes.

For example, “Kumquat” literally means “golden orange.” Symbolizing wealth and prosperity, the little citrus fruits, and sometimes the tree saplings, are given as gifts during Chinese New Year. Other “wealthy” fruits include Oranges and Tangerines. The larger citrus like Pummelos and Grapefruits symbolize abundance, prosperity, and family unity.

Another item that represents good fortune is Daikon or Asian Radish. In one Chinese dialect, the word for radish is a homophone for “good fortune.” This is why the savory radish cake is traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year celebration. But Daikon is more versatile than that. It can be added to soups and stews, steamed, or eaten fresh, chopped up or thinly shaved into salads.

Daikon could be a part of the mixed vegetable dish that represents family unity. This typical stir-fry is made with a touch of oyster sauce for business success and a mix of vegetables like Shanghai Bok Choy for close family ties, and Woodear and Shiitake Mushrooms for longevity.

The ultimate longevity blessing, however, comes from the noodles. Long and uncut, they symbolize long life. While Chow Mein is a traditional choice, other Asian noodles like Yakisoba are used for pan-fries and stir-fries, and Udons are used in soups. Shrimp may be added for liveliness and pork for abundance of blessings.

One of the many Chinese New Year wishes translates to “May your happiness be without limit.” With good eating like this, it definitely is the beginning of a very happy year!

Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Happy New Year and be prosperous!)

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